The Steve Forbes era of ETSU basketball has officially begun.
The Bucs got their first win of the regular season Saturday night, defeating Averett University 107-59.
The team got off to a hot start and led at halftime 47-26. They shot a 50 percent field goal percentage but made only two out of 11 three-pointers. The Bucs only shot twelve free throws in the first half.
The game was tied twice, but the Bucs never found themselves trailing the Cougars.
Defensively, the Bucs held the Cougars to a 35.5 percent field goal percentage in the first half, shooting 18.2 percent from three-point range.
“We really improved tonight on defense as far as percentages go, compared to the last game that we played,” said coach Steve Forbes. “I wanted our post defense to get better, which I thought took a step forward in the second half.”
At halftime, Deuce Bello was the leading scorer for the Bucs with 12 points, with a 66 percent field goal percentage. Bello hit one of ETSU’s two three-pointers and ended the game with 16 points.
The Bucs outscored Averett in the second half, 60-33, leading them to the 107-59 victory to advance to 1-0 on the season.
Overall, ETSU had 48 points in the paint with 13 second-chance points. They outscored the Cougars 10-4 on fast break points and 41-24 from players who came off the bench. The Cougars had just three second-chance points and 22 points in the paint.
“I thought that we came out a little sluggish to start, but we picked it up in the end, and that’s what matters,” said Ge’Lawn Guyn. “We have had some hard practices and lifts lately, but we fought through it.”
Guyn had 19 points in the 29 minutes that he played, scoring two of the team’s five three-pointers. He also led the team in assists with five.
A.J. Merriweather and T.J. Cromer both led the Bucs in total points scored with 19. Merriweather also led the team in steals with five and had one block with two assists.
“I started off kind of slow, but the coaches told me to just keep going and the baskets would start falling,” said Cromer. “Sometimes we get rushed, but it’s an ongoing process, and we’ll get better as the season goes on.”
The Bucs will play their next game against Wisconsin-Green Bay at home at 6 a.m. Tuesday. It will be televised on ESPN2 as a part of ESPN’s 24 hours of college basketball marathon.
“We will be excited to play on national television and in front of what will hopefully be a big crowd Tuesday morning,” said Forbes. “The tough part will be getting ready in a short amount of time.”
Forbes said the team will be doing a few things differently because Tuesday’s game is so early in the morning. The team will stay in a hotel Monday night, even though the game is in Johnson City, so that the coaches can make sure the team gets enough rest before the game.
Green Bay lost their opener on Friday night to the Stanford Cardinal in overtime, 93-89.